Baseball’s babies (5×8 – 4/22/11)

The testosterone tales, the solution to the problem of sleepy controllers, walking away from the green products, the price of killing an endangered bird; and frack, baby, frack!


Oh, Texas, you are so consistently good to me. Richie Whitt, a columnist for a Dallas newspaper, complains that a pitcher took time off to attend to the birth of his child. Major League Baseball has new rules that provide expectant fathers with the time off to be with their wives/girlfriends when they give birth. Simple? Not in Texas, according to Whitt:

Don’t have kids of my own but I raised a step-son for eight years. I know all about sacrifice and love and how great children are.

But a pitcher missing one of maybe 30 starts? And it’s all kosher because of Major League Baseball’s new paternity leave rule?

Follow me this way to some confusion.

He finishes with a flourish:

If it was a first child, maybe. But a second child causing a player to miss a game? Ludicrous.

Well, of course, you just knew National Public Radio would ask the question what kind of a man would want to be at their kid’s arrival.

Should a baseball pitcher have pitched instead of pitched in?survey software


Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been the model tough-talker in the wake of instances in which controllers fell asleep. He’s rejected the idea of naps for controllers on duty. “We’re not going to pay someone to sleep,” he said last week. There’s science that says that’s exactly what the government should do. reports the science of the third shift is clear:

While controllers can work multiple schedules, the problematic one is called a 2-2-1 counterclockwise rotation, which compresses a five-shift workweek. On the first two days, the controller works two evening shifts, followed by two morning shifts, and on the fourth day, the controller ends the morning shift in the early afternoon, then returns to work in the evening, after an eight-hour break (now nine hours).

A schedule like this can create problems because it requires controllers to be alert when their bodies want to sleep and to sleep when they are alert. Nearly everyone has a natural, daily cycle of activity and sleep, called our circadian rhythm. When our body temperature is high, we are productive and alert; and later, body temperature drops, as does our performance, when it’s time to sleep, according to Belenky. “That’s physiology; it is not something that can be overcome solely by self-discipline and good intentions,” he said.


The earth is no match for the recession, apparently. Sales of “green” products have tailed off badly, the New York Times reports today. The earth is something you save when everything else is going well, one consumer says. Everything else is not going well now. Sorry, earth.


That’ll teach ’em. An Indiana judge has fined two people who shot and killed the first whooping crane to successfully raise a chick in the eastern migratory population. The fine: $1 plus court costs. According to

The crane that was shot was the first, and for a long time, the only female in the eastern migratory population to hatch a chick and raise it to independence. She and her mate hatched two chicks in the summer of 2006 at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin. One died but the second, named W1-06, followed its parents to Florida, found a mate, and is currently nesting at Necedah.

“They would drive around shooting whatever (animals) they saw, kind of like target practice. They had been squirrel hunting, and then they came upon a large white bird and just shot it,” a conservation officer said.


MPR’s Elizabeth Baier provides details today on a potential frac sand operation being proposed in the Red Wing area. The sand is used in fracking, which squeezes oil and natural gas out of the ground. The company, which wouldn’t comment for the story, told officials it would use the land as a “sand pit.” Even though it’s unclear exactly what the Red Wing operation will look like, Baier says, the Mississippi River valley has the potential to turn into a hot spot for this type of sand mining.

The company involved has not applied for any permits, yet.

Bonus: It seemed like a good idea to a gang member at the time. Pico Rivera’s tattoos about the murder he committed helped the cops solve the crime.


Time Magazine has included Rep. Michele Bachmann on its list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Today’s Question: What Minnesotans would you rank among the world’s most influential people?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Sen. Al Franken.

Second hour: Star Tribune restaurant critic Rick Nelson.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Earth Day

Second hour: Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute speaks at the U of M Humphrey School about how to get Americans back to work. The event was moderated by APM’s Chris Farrell.

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The highs and lows of the space shuttle program, and the uncertain future of human spaceflight.

Second hour: What we can learn about an environment’s health by listening to it.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Pothole claims for damage are up in all major Minnesota cities and for the state this winter, compared with at least four winters past. Most people don’t pursue claims because pothole damage is covered by comprehensive insurance. That leaves low-income people with no insurance or a lower level of insurance coverage holding the bill for pothole damage. MPR’s Rupa Shenoy will have the story.

Among the cuts in last week’s federal budget deal were reductions to a program that helps homeless veterans get into housing. Advocates say the cuts come at a time when the needs of this high-risk population are greater than ever. Jess Mador will report.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Norway, consistently ranked #1 when measuring overall health, grants 10 weeks of fully paid paternal leave.

    Meanwhile, Texas, consistently ranked among 3rd world countries…..

  • Jon

    Regarding #3, it might have something also to do with the revelations that so many of the “green” products were bogus. My blood runs Kelly Green, but I’m not going to pay more for something that can be substituted with vinegar or baking soda.

  • phil

    This 5×8 made me really sad! $1 for shooting an endangered bird!? Flammable drinking water because of no regulation?! Criticizing a man for being with his wife at the birth of their child?! What is up with that?

  • Jim Shapiro

    Dear Phil –

    I find that this kind of sadness can be assuaged by taking positive action.

    Making a contribution to the Sierra Club, volunteering a couple of hours on the children’s unit of a hospital, shooting and disemboweling a trophy hunter – that sort of thing. 🙂